Diamonds add value to stolen watches

Scotland Yard is looking for the rightful owner of a stolen $57,000 Rolex watch who now stands to make enough money to buy a second home after police found the thieves had encrusted it with diamonds, The Times of London reports.

The man’s watch was seized by detectives in an operation to catch the gangs behind a spate of street robberies and burglaries around Britain, the newspaper reported. It was put on display at Scotland Yard yesterday in an attempt to find the owners of more than $2.9 million worth of recovered stolen property.

In its original condition the Rolex was worth an estimated $57,000 but the diamonds, which now decorate the gold face and strap, have inflated that to more than $284,000, the newspaper reported.

Police appealed yesterday for the rightful owner to contact them and said that he or she would be entitled to have it in its present condition, the newspaper reported. They recovered the watch last year as part of Operation Castillion in which they seized $3.6 million worth of watches, jewelry and antiques. One raid alone saw police retrieve 710,000 worth of goods.

So much of the haul has proved untraceable, often because it had not been reported stolen, that only $568,000 worth has been identified and returned to the owners.

In addition to the Rolex there was a further $568,000 worth of designer watches seized, including 30 Cartiers, five Franck Mullers and six Guccis. One $14,000 watch was returned to its owner worth $45,000 because it had been covered with diamonds.

Most of the goods were stolen in west London but because the capital is at the center of an underworld trade in watches, pieces from Brighton, Grimsby, and South Africa were also found in the haul.